On Tuesday representatives of Google contacted the American Booksellers Association and Powell’s Books to announce that it will end its Google eBooks reseller program worldwide. In February, it had seemed as if independent booksellers were getting a reprieve when Google reinstated some affiliate stores that had low sales. But in yet another sign of industry consolidation, Google will start selling e-books solely through its recently launched Google Play beginning January 31, 2013.
CEO of the ABA Oren Teicher sent out a letter to ABA members this morning notifying them of the turn of events. "To say the least, we are very disappointed in Google’s decision," wrote Teicher, "but we have every confidence that long before Google’s reseller program is discontinued, ABA will be able to offer IndieCommerce users a new alternative e-book product, or choice of products." During the transition, Google eBooks will continue to be available on bookseller Web sites.
In a statement Emily Powell, president of Powell’s Books, called the news "extremely disappointing. Our decision three years ago to partner with Google and provide Google eBooks was an important move for Powell's to solidify our place in the highly competitive e-book industry." She notes that Powell's offers e-books from other outlets, including Ingram Content Group, and will explore opportunities to expand that business.
A Google spokesperson told PW, "the reseller program has not gained the traction that we hoped it would with customers or retailers, so we have made the difficult decision to discontinue it." Google will continue to work with its partners through the transition.